I’ve never considered having a meatless main dish at a Passover seder. My family favors brisket or poached salmon, and there’s always been more focus on the meaty main entrée than the veggie side dishes. But as my family has grown, so has the number of vegetarians. And those of us who aren’t vegetarian have become more conscious of what type of meat we eat, and how often we eat it.

JFH_cookbookSometimes it’s OK to stray from tradition, or start new ones altogether. Kenden Alfond is the world-traveling woman behind the food and lifestyle blog Jewish Food Hero, and she’s just launched a new digital cookbook, “The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: 50 Simple Plant-Based Recipes for Your Holiday Meals.” This collection provides you with the resources to give your traditional recipes a healthier makeover. The book contains 10 plant-based menus—50 recipes in all—organized around each of the 10 major Jewish holidays. But these recipes shouldn’t just be relegated to holiday eats; they can be eaten year-round for those of us who want to incorporate more veggie-heavy, meat-free options into our diets.

To see what Jewish Food Hero is all about, try Alfond’s recipe for shepherd’s pie. If you’re a reluctant vegetable eater, don’t worry: I assure you the dish is tasty (be generous with the seasonings!), substantial and surprisingly easy to put together. It would make a perfect addition to your Passover menu, or your everyday recipe repertoire.

vegan shep pie 2
Photo credit: Mari Levine

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Recipe reprinted with permission from “Jewish Food Hero”

If you eat kitniyot during Passover, you can also use peas and thin string beans for the topping.

Serves 8


Extra-large pot
Large skillet
Small bowl
Potato masher
Glass baking dish (9×13 inches)
Large spoon
Medium pot and steamer basket 


Mashed potatoes topping:
3 pounds red skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pepper to taste

Pie filling:
2 cups diced onion (from about 2 medium onions)
3 cups sliced mushrooms (from about ½ pound whole mushrooms)
3 cups vegetable broth (not low-sodium)
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
2 cups peeled and sliced carrots (from about 2 carrots)
2 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1 small head)
3 tablespoons potato starch1 teaspoon sea salt
Pepper to taste

Steamed carrots, yellow summer squash and zucchini (cut into rounds)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Boil the potatoes:

  • Place the prepared potatoes in an extra-large soup pot, and cover with at least 1 inch of cold water
  • Boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender

Meanwhile, sauté the vegetables:

  • In a large skillet, sauté the onion and mushrooms in ¼ cup vegetable broth or water for 10 minutes, adding more broth if needed
  • Add the sage, thyme and carrots, and sauté for another 5 minutes
  • Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 more minutes
  • Add the vegetable broth to the vegetables in the skillet, reserving ¼ cup to mix with potato starch

Create the potato starch slurry and finish cooking the vegetable mixture:

  • In a small bowl, combine the potato starch with the ¼ cup reserved vegetable broth and mix well
  • Add the potato starch mixture, sea salt and pepper to the vegetables
  • Stir until thickened

Mash the potatoes:

  • Drain the cooked potatoes and mash them, adding the almond milk, sea salt and pepper

Assemble the dish and bake:

  • Pour the cooked vegetables into a lightly oiled 9×13­inch glass casserole dish
  • Top with the mashed potatoes and smooth the surface with a spoon
  • Bake for 30 minutes

Prepare the garnish:

  • While the casserole is cooking, chop the vegetables for the garnish, paying attention to maintaining a uniform and delicate shape
  • Steam the vegetables for the garnish just enough so they retain their beautiful color and a bit of crunch

Arrange the garnish and serve:

  • Arrange the warm vegetables on top of the casserole in a design that inspires you
  • Keep warm in oven until ready to serve, then serve family-style on the table

Copyright © 2016 Jewish Food Hero.